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THE YEAR 1000 AND THE ANTECEDENTS OF THE 

CRUSADES l 

The passion of the nineteenth century has been the study of 
origins. Our historians of the Crusades, seeking a starting-point, 
have been prone to find one (though not the only one) in a panic 
of terror said to have fallen upon Christendom as it neared the 
close of the first thousand years of its existence — a belief that the 
world would end with the year iooo. 

Thus Michaud, at the opening of the century ; thus Archer, at 
its closing. Even Heinrich von Sybel, whose epoch-making history 
of the First Crusade opened a new era of critical study in this field, 
and who, in the revised edition published in 1881, could with just 
pride congratulate himself that in the forty years since its first ap- 
pearance its main conclusions had been adopted by all leading 
scholars, and could hope that "perhaps in another forty years they 
will have the fortune to find a place in the manuals and the text- 
books," tells us still in this new edition that 

"As the first thousand years of our calendar drew to an end, in every 
land of Europe the people expected with certainty the destruction of the 
world. Some souandered their substance in riotous living, others bestowed 
it for the salvation of their souls on churches and convents, bewailing 
multitudes lay by day and by night about the altars, many looked with 
terror, yet most with a secret hope, for the conflagration of the earth and 
the falling of the heavens. ' ' * 

Alas for human fallibility ! The legend which he thus re-echoes 
had within the decade been already twice refuted, and with a con- 
clusiveness more crushing than his own exposure of the legends of 
the First Crusade. In the score of years that since has passed 
Peter the Hermit and Godfrey of Bouillon have even in manual 
and text-book begun to take the background. Is it not time, now 
that three further critics have sifted, and with the same result, the 
legend of the year 1000, that it should vanish from our thought of 
the Crusades? And could we find a better moment for its study 

'Read, at the late annual meeting of the American Historical Association, as the 
opening paper of a session devoted to the Crusades and the East. 

2 H. v. Sybel, Geschichte des ersten Kreuzzugs (2te, neu bearbeitete Auflage, Leipzig,- 
1881), p. 150. 

VOL. VI. — 29. ( 429 ) 



43° G. L. Burr 

than now, as we stand at the threshold of another Christian century 
and look across it to the near close of another millennium ? 

The earliest author, and the only pre-modern one, in whose 
pages has been found any mention of a panic at the year iooo is 
the German abbot Joannes Tritemius, who lived and wrote just as 
the fifteenth century was changing to the sixteenth. In his chronicle 
of the world, the Annales Hirsaugietises, as it now lies before us, 
there is, in the passage devoted to the year iooo, this sentence: 
"In this year a terrible comet appeared, which by its look terrified 
many, who feared that the last day was at hand ; inasmuch as sev- 
eral years before it had been predicted by some, deluded by a false 
calculation, that the visible world would end in the year of Christ 
iooo." But, as this chronicle, left in manuscript by its author, was 
never printed in full till 1690, as the abridged form earlier printed 
says nothing of this panic, even mentioning the comet in another 
connection, and as by 1690 the belief in such a panic was already 
in vogue from other sources, there is much reason to suspect that 
the sentence belongs not to Tritemius but to his seventeenth-century 
editors. Whether his or not, it should perhaps be brought into 
connection with an earlier passage, under the year 960, which tells 
of the appearance at the council of princes in Worms of a Thuringian 
hermit, named Bernhard, well versed in the scriptures and popularly 
venerated as a saint, who declared it revealed to him that the end 
of the world was already at hand. Some, says Tritemius, thought 
him an inspired prophet, while others laughed at him as a man out 
of his mind or swollen by self-conceit. 

But the first book to publish to the world the millennial terror 
was the famous Annales Ecclesiastici of Cardinal Baronius, in 1605. 
Beginning with the year 1001 the eleventh volume of his great 
work, he opens it with the statement that this year, the first of a 
new century, had been by some " foretold as the world's last, or 
nigh thereto, when Antichrist should be revealed;" and he quotes 
in full from the tenth-century abbot, Abbo of Fleury, a passage 
telling how while he was yet a youth he heard in Paris a preacher 
declare that at the end of the thousandth year Antichrist should 
come and not long after him the Judgment, 1 and how once in Lor- 
raine there had spread a report that when Annunciation Day 
should fall on Good Friday the end of the world would arrive. To 
this, from Sigebert of Gembloux he adds a list of the prodigies seen 
in the year iooo, remarking that these might well seem heralds of 

1 *' De fine quoque mundi coram populo sermonem in Ecclesia Parisiorum ado- 
lescentulus audivi, quod statim, finite mille annorum numero, Antichristus adveniret, et 
non longo post tempore, universale judicium succederet." 



The Year iooo 431 

such a catastrophe, then quotes from Gerbert a rhetorical allusion 
to the impending days of Antichrist and from Thietmar and Ra- 
dulf Glaber such testimony to the corruption of the times as could 
well make it believable. 

For what is found in a work of such authority one does not 
too closely scan the proofs. Thus set afloat, the story was sure to 
spread ; and like all good stories, it grew. In 1633 Le Vasseur, in 
his annals of the church of Noyon, enriched it with the statement, 
which he thought he drew from Radulf Glaber — the familiar pass- 
age about the earth's " covering herself with a white robe of 
churches" — that the world's escape from the terrors of the year 
1000 was the occasion of a great burst of church-building. Thus 
enriched, it passed into the great Benedictine works of the eighteenth 
century — the annals of Mabillon, the dictionary of Calmet, the His- 
toire Litteraire de la France — and into many another standard work 
of learning. If here and there a scholar like Fleury, Muratori, 
Voltaire, Gibbon, gave it no mention, the silence passed unnoticed. 

But it was the Scotchman Robertson who made it a common- 
place of history. In that luminous View of the Progress of Society 
in Europe during the Middle Ages which in 1769 he prefaced to his 
History of Charles the Fifth, and which, translated into all European 
tongues, remained for a century the favorite survey of medieval 
civilization, he not only emphasized the panic, bringing it into direct 
connection with the Crusades, but gave it a more scientific standing 
by citing in its support, besides Abbo, three medieval chronicles — 
those of St. Pantaleon and Godellus and the "Annalista Saxo." 
It remained only, in our own century, for that inspired Frenchman, 
Jules Michelet to reveal its worth to literature at large. It is the 
keynote of that majestic prose dirge upon the misery of France un- 
der the early Capetians with which, in 1833, he began this period 
of his great history. And he lends it vividness by working into 
his narrative, after his fashion, not only from the chronicles, but 
from the Councils and from the preambles of charters, 1 what seem 
corroborative extracts. 

Poet, novelist, dramatist, have since made the most of it. 2 Even 
the German historian -poet, Felix Dahn, was beguiled into devoting 
to it a cycle of lyrics ; and the Italian poet-historian Carducci has 
depicted it in a prose poem more melodious than verse. 

Yet protesting voices began to be raised. In 1 840 the Italian 
jurist Francesco Forti doubted that the panic could have been gen- 

1 These, indeed, Michaud, the historian of the Crusades, had used before him. 
8 A long list, though by no means an exhaustive one, is given by Orsi, in his mono- 
graph later to be mentioned. 



432 G. L. Burr 

eral. In 1861 the French archaeologist Auber denied and dis- 
proved its effect upon architecture. In 1867 Olleris, the editor of 
the works of Gerbert, felt forced to exclaim : " One does not see 
that this fatal date then inspired in anybody the terror which was 
later singularly exaggerated by ignorant monks." 

But it was not till 1873 that a scholar took the legend seriously 
in hand. Then, at last, in the Revue des Questions Historiques the 
Benedictine Francois Plaine put it to a sifting so thorough that his 
might well have been the last word. 1 Dealing first with the monk- 
ish historians of the later Middle Ages, he showed that the story 
was no exaggeration of theirs, since not one of them mentions it at 
all. Then, taking up one by one the contemporary annalists of 
the early eleventh century, Italian, German, French, English, he 
pointed out their utter silence as to such a panic, nay more, how 
much in them seems incompatible with such a thing. Next he dis- 
cussed the true meaning of that handful of passages which to Ba- 
ronius, to Robertson, to Michelet, had seemed to imply such a ter- 
ror. True it is that the Council of Trosly reminded the bishops 
that "soon we shall behold the majestic and terrible day when 
every shepherd with his flock shall appear before the supreme Shep- 
herd." But the Council of Trosly was in the year 909, its words 
specify no date for the end of things, and they were only such 
words as had been constantly heard since the birth of Christianity. 
The abbot Adson, it is true, wrote, about the year 954, a booklet on 
the Antichrist. But it was only a book of exegesis, meant to enlighten 
Queen Gerberga on an obscure point of the faith, and it nowhere 
intimates that the author himself or anybody else thought Anti- 
christ at hand. It is true that Abbo of Fleury tells of a preacher 
at Paris who looked for the end of the world in the year 1000; 
but he tells us also that he himself refuted him from Scripture on 
the spot, and, though it is clear from the allusion to his youth that 
this could hardly have been later than the year 960, while Abbo 
wrote his narrative in 998, he nowhere intimates that the delusion 
was ever heard of again. True, he represents the people of Lor- 
raine as later (it must have been about 975) terrified at the pros- 
pect of Annunciation's falling on Good Friday ; but this conjunc- 
tion was due in the year 992, and he not only tells us that the de- 
lusion was refuted (which was the easier because the two days had 
already fallen together more than once) but that it was dispelled. 2 
Nor can it be denied that the monk William Godel, writing a 

1 Revue des Questions Hitotiques, XXIIt. 145-164. Paris, 1873. 

a His Apologeticus, in which these passages occur, is addressed to the King of 
France, and in it he is demonstrating his own orthodoxy by recounting the errors which 
during his lifetime he has known and fought. 



The Year iooo 433 

couple of centuries later, does, as Robertson says, assert that in the 
year 1010 people in many places thought in their fright that the 
end of the world was at hand ; but the whole of what he says is that 
" at the news of the taking of Jerusalem by the Turks people in their 
fright thought the end of the world at hand " — a phrase which 
will hardly be taken too seriously. And, after all, the year 1010 
was not the year 1 000. ' 

And Radulf Glaber — Anglice Ralph the Bald — on whom, above 
all, the tradition has been made to rest ? If anybody could know 
of a panic at the year 1000, it would surely be Radulf Glaber — a 
superstitious and garrulous old monk, who, in a day when monas- 
teries were the only inns, and when his Burgundian home, on the 
border of three realms, was the highway for that army of pil- 
grims pressing ever to Cluny and to Rome, spent his life at this, 
that, and the other abbey, with ears wide open for every tale of 
prodigy, and widest for those of direful import. He believed, too, 
in the mystic worth of numbers, and the year 1000 was precisely 
the theme of his chronicle : he would relate, he said, the uncommon 
multitude of edifying things which had come to pass in the vicinage 
of the thousandth year of Christ's incarnation. Yet, alas, though 
his pages are alive with signs and wonders in Heaven and in Earth, 
and though not a few of these belong to the year 1000 itself, not 
even Radulf knows of any fear that then the world would end. 
The only passage savoring of such a thought, is his portrayal of 
that terrible famine which fell " as there drew on the thousand and 
thirty-third year of the incarnate Christ, which is from the passion 
of the said Saviour the thousandth." 

There remain the preambles of the charters ; but it was easy for 
Dom Plaine to point out that such preambles were but copied bodily 
out of a formula-book, and that the particular one cited in evidence — 
appropinquante mundi termino — belongs to the old collection of Mar- 
culf and has been demonstrably in use since the seventh century ; 
easy, too, to demonstrate that the formula continued in use after the 
year 1000, as before. 

Turning then from the ruined legend, the Benedictine showed 
what a busy and aggressive time for Christendom was that year of 
alleged despair — when the wisest man of his day, Gerbert, was 
Pope, and the most enthusiastic, young Otto, was Emperor — when 
Hungary and Bohemia and the Scandinavian North were simultane- 
ously turning to the Christian faith, and the Spaniards with renewed 
vigor were forcing back their Moslem neighbors. And nowhere in 

1 As for the chronicle of St. Pantaleon and the Saxon annalist, cited by Robertson, 
the terror mentioned by them occurred a century later, at the time of the First Crusade. 



434 G. L. Burr 

all this, or in what we are told in the lesser activities of church and 
society, the slightest mention of such a motive as the impending end 
of the world. 

In fine, then, the sole contemporary evidence for a panic of 
terror at the year iooo proved to be a statement that forty years 
earlier one Paris preacher named it as the date of the end of the 
world — a preacher whose prophecy was at once refuted, and, for 
aught we can learn, at once forgotten, 

The refutation was crushing. Yet one convinced against his 
will might in this essay by an ecclesiastic for a conservative review 
suspect a partisan loyalty to the Middle Ages. And it must be 
confessed that its tone is a trifle polemic. But no suspicion of con- 
servatism could lie against the next assailant. It was the anti- 
clerical Raoul Rosieres, who five years later, in 1878, when about 
to bring out the two works 1 by which he hoped to help " decleri- 
calize " and " deroyalize " France, found it necessary to test this 
legend before using it. His study he published in the Revue 
Politique} His analysis of the question, though slightly briefer, 
was not less effective. His results were the same. As he clearly 
knew nothing of the earlier paper of Dom Plaine and stood for so 
opposite a point of approach, the agreement of their conclusions 
was the more convincing. 

French scholarship needed no further enlightenment ; but the 
Germans, witness Von Sybel, were not yet all abreast. It was in 
1883 that Heinrich von Eicken, doubtless already gathering ma- 
terial for what is still our best book on the medieval point of view, 3 
brought the matter of the year 1 000, by an article in a German his- 
torical review, to the notice of German scholars. 4 Though he had 
seen Rosieres's paper, he knows nothing of that of Dom Plaine ; and 
even, he tells us, before knowing of Rosieres's, his own studies had 
lately convinced him of the baselessness of the tradition. It is 
especially from German sources that he now confirms and expands 
the work of the Frenchman. 

The latest word in defence of the legend which I remember to 
have heard from any competent scholar was from Leon Gautier, 
lecturing to his class in the Ecole des Chartes at Paris, in the win- 

1 His Recherches sur P Histoire Religieuse de la France (Paris, 1879), and his His- 
toire de la Societe Francaise au Moyen-Age, 987-1483 ( Paris, 1880). 

2 Revue Politique et Littiraire, 2d series, XIV. 919-924 (Paris, 1878). His article 
is entitled : E-tudes Nouvelles sur V Ancienne France : La Legende de V An Mil. 

5 His Geschichte und System der mittelalterlichen Weltanschauung. 

« Forschungen zur Deutschen Geschichte, XXIII. 303-318 (Gottingen, 1883). 
His article calls itself : Die Legende von der Erwartung des Weltunterganges und aer 
Wiederkehr Chris ti im Jahre 1000. 



The Year iooo 435 

ter of 1885. He admitted the refutation of the narrative evidence, 
but still thought that in the charters the formula about the end 
of the world grew more frequent as the year 1000 approached. 
But even while he spoke his younger colleague, M. Jules Roy, was 
preparing, for the popular Bibliotheque des Merveilles, a little mono- 
graph which should not only dispel such lingering doubts, but reach 
the ear of a wider public. 1 This interesting little volume, after 
dealing with the whole history of the fear of the end of the world 
and refuting the legend of the year 1000, portrays from the sources 
the real condition of the world and especially of France in the last 
half of the tenth century and the first of the eleventh. 

At almost the same time a young Italian scholar who has since 
won eminence as an historian — Pietro Orsi — was making the year 
1000 and its legend the subject of a thesis at the University of 
Turin. First presented in 1884, it was able, before its publication 
in 1887 in the Rivista Storica Italiana, to take cognizance of Roy's 
book, and is for scholars the most methodical and exhaustive ex- 
position of its theme. 2 But, though more complete, its results tally 
with those of Plaine and Rosieres and Eicken and Roy ; and at the 
end its author can but echo their conclusion : " The terrors of the 
year 1000 are only a legend and a myth." Nor has any scholar, 
since the first assault, a quarter-century ago, cared to print a word 
in protest. 

But, I hear you exclaim, you who have felt how awesome, even 
in these rational days, is the ending of a century, how could there 
help being terror, in that age, at the close of a millennium ? It was, 
I am convinced, precisely this sense of intrinsic probability which 
made it so easy for scholars else cautious and thorough to fall into 
the error ; and it may be worth a moment to ask why such a panic 
was not then so natural as at first appears. 

First of all, and most important, the belief in the end of the 
world was already worn out. It had cried "Wolf" too often. It 
began with the very first generation of Christians, and sought a 
warrant in the words of the Christ himself. Almost the oldest 
Christian book we have — the second letter of Paul to the Thessa- 
lonians — is a protest against it. But it lived on. It found an echo 
in the Apocalypse and in the letters ascribed to Peter and to Jude. 
It sounded on through the Fathers, from Tertullian to Gregory the 

1 V An Mille : Formation de la Zegende de V An Mille, —Etat dt la France de V an 
950 a Van iojo (Paris, 1885), 35 1 pp. There is at the end an excellent bibliography. 

2 V Anno Mille : Saggio di Critica Storica (Torino, 1887), 62 pp., reprinted from the 
Rivista Storica Italiana, Vol. IV. (1887). In 1891 Professor Orsi threw it into briefer 
popular form for a lecture, at Venice, on Le Patire del Finimondo neW Anno 1000. This 
was also published (Turin, 1891, 31 pp.). 



436 G. L. Burr 

Great. Augustine, like Paul, had to make a stand against it. The 
end was always coming, and never came. But precisely for this 
reason it grew at length a mark of orthodoxy to deny that the time 
of the end could be foreknown, and on the lips of all pious church- 
men, as on those of Adson and Abbo in the tenth century, were 
the words " Of that day and hour knoweth no man," " The day of 
the Lord cometh as a thief in the night." Even the credulous mil- 
lenarian, whose own millennium was of course no thousand years 
of this world, but the thousand of Christ's reign which should follow 
it, yet who had built on the prophecies of- Old Testament and New, 
and especially on the text that " with God a thousand years are as one 
day," a belief that his millennial Sabbath would set in at the end of the 
sixth thousand years from the Creation (and even Augustine believed 
that this was in his day nearly up), must have felt his faith wax faint 
as date after date inferred from Ezekiel and from Daniel passed by and 
brought no change. Bishop Gregory of Tours in the sixth century 
wrote his chronicle of the times already past propter eos qui adpro - 
pinquantem mundv finem desperant — " for the sake of those who de- 
spair of the end of the world." In the tenth century, then, it was 
only ignorant laymen like those of Lorraine, or some ill-trained 
visionary like Abbo's preacher, who could put faith in a date for 
the end of the world. And Dom Pl,aine may well be right in be- 
lieving that it was only the revival of millenary dreams in the cen- 
tury following the Reformation which made it easy for Baronius 
and his contemporaries to fancy a panic at the year 1000. 

It must be remembered, further, that the round numbers of a 
decimal system had much less vogue in the tenth century than now. 
It was the I, V, X, L, C, D, M, of the old Roman notation which 
governed the numerical ideas of men. Nor was currency, or 
weight, or measure, in the scales of that day a decimal matter. 
Under the influence of the Hebrew Scriptures even the decimals of 
classical antiquity had largely given place to the sacred round num- 
bers of the Jews — the threes, the sevens, the twelves, and their 
multiples ; and especially was this the case in all that pertained to 
prophecy. 

Nor may one forget that the Christian calendar itself was yet a 
novel thing in the year 1000. The monk Dionysius, who at the 
middle of the sixth century devised it, had no authority to impose 
its adoption ; and it crept but slowly into use. Monkish chronicles 
had early begun to employ it ; but the first pope to date by the 
Christian era his official letters was John XIII., scarce thirty years 
before the year 1000 ; and " its use," says the latest and highest 
authority, Arthur Giry, " did not become general in the west of 



The Year iooo 437 

Europe till after the year 1000" — wherefore the name of millesime, 
by which the French still call a Christian date. In Spain, indeed, 
it was not used until the fourteenth century ; and by Greek Chris- 
tians not until the fifteenth. 

Even when it had come in, it was reinforced in all formal papers 
by other datings — by the regnal years of pope or emperor or king, 
by the year of the indiction, perhaps by others. Nor was it yet or 
for long agreed just how to reckon by the Christian calendar. 
Some preferred to count their years from the Lord's Passion, in- 
stead of his Incarnation. And if from the Incarnation, should that 
be dated from the Nativity, at December 25, or from the Concep- 
tion, three-quarters of a year earlier? Dionysius himself would 
seem to have preferred the latter ; and even to this day we cannot 
be sure whether he meant to place the birth of Christ at the begin- 
ning or at the end of the first year of our Christian calendar — in the 
year 753 or the year 754 of the Roman city. Throughout the 
Middle Ages there prevailed the widest variance as to when the 
New Year should set in — here it was begun at Christmas, there at 
Annunciation, yonder at Easter, in Venice on the first of March, in 
Russia at the vernal equinox, in the Greek Empire on the first of 
September, in Spain on the first of January. Florence and Pisa, 
agreeing in the use of that Maty-year which was still in vogue 
among our great-grandfathers in England and America as late as 
1752, could yet not agree which twenty -fifth of March one ought to 
count from ; and, neighbor-towns though they were, Pisa began her 
year just twelve months ahead of Florence. What havoc must this 
work with the punctuality of the end of the world ! 

And if through such confusion men's sense of date grew blunt, 
how much more through the needlessness to most people of dates 
at all — that is, of Christian-era dates. To us who at every turn are 
stared at by calendars and date-lines, who must every day of our 
lives again and again write day and month and year, it is not easy 
to realize a world wherein all this is the affair of priests and no- 
taries. The ordinary man, gentle and simple, of the year 1000, 
could not have read a date if he had seen it. And, just as the 
hours of the day were to him not figures on a dial but those re- 
minders which at prime and terce and sext and none and evensong 
called to him through the sweet bells of parish-church or minster, 
so his landmarks of the year were the great days of the Church, 
her feasts, her vigils, and her fasts — Easter and Ascension and 
Whitsunday, Michaelmas and Christmas and Ash-Wednesday — 
underscored and red-lettered for him by the solemn pageantry of 
worship. If Annunciation and Good Friday fell together, that was 
startling ; but what recked he of years of the Incarnation ? 



438 G. L. Burr 

Is it so strange, then, that the panic of the year iooo is only a 
nightmare of modern scholars ? 

But there is another myth of the year iooo whose relation to 
the Crusades is more patent. Among the letters of Gerbert, who 
in that year sat upon the papal throne as Silvester II., there has 
come down to us a curious document. It bears no date of year or 
place, and only its presence there suggests its authorship. " She 
who is Jerusalem" — for so the document begins — appeals to the 
universal church for aid. At first glance its fervid phrases seem a 
call to arms against her pagan spoilers, and in it scholars long saw 
the earliest suggestion of the Crusades. It was imputed to the 
pope among whose papers it was found, and some' believed that it 
was the terrors of the year i ooo which had called it forth. It has, 
however, nothing in common with a papal utterance, and those who 
were content to count it Gerbert's were by no means agreed to 
count it his as Pope. In 1877 that arch-skeptic Julius Harttung 
(later Pflugk-Harttiing) denied it to him altogether, advancing 
much cogent argument to prove it an effusion of a century later 
which had somehow strayed into Gerbert's papers. 1 In 1881 his 
view received the weighty adhesion of Count Paul Riant, who 
strengthened it by further argument. 2 Their verdict met accept- 
ance at the hands of other scholars, including the authoritative ed- 
itors of the Papal Regesta, 3 though Heinrich von Sybel refused to 
be convinced. But in 1889 that prince of historical mousers, the 
lamented Julien Havet, propounded a more satisfying theory. * 
It is not, he points out, a call to arms, but only a call for money — 
"a sort of circular, meant to be carried about by a collector of 
alms for the Christian establishments at Jerusalem." It may well 
have been written, Havet thinks, by Gerbert, but probably in the 
spring of 984, long before his papacy, and perhaps for the use of 
his friend the abbot Guarin, known to have been interested in this 
collection of alms for the Holy Land. 

So passes one of the most famous of the antecedents of the 
Crusades. And with it, at the hands of the critics — they are again 
Harttung and Riant — has fallen the bull ostensibly called forth by 
the Moslem destruction of the Holy Sepulchre in 10 10. Pope 
Sergius, addressing the princes and prelates of Catholic Christen- 

1 Forschungen zur Deutschen Geschichte, XVII. 390-396 (Gottingen, 1877). The 
article is called Zur Vorgeschichte des ersten Kreuzzuges. 

2 In his hiventaire des Lettres Historiques des Croisades, in the Archives de I ' Orient 
Latin, I. (Paris, 1881.) 

'Wattenbach and his colleagues, in the edition of 1885. In Jaffe's original edi- 
tion it does not appear. 

* In his edition of the Lettres de Gerbert, 983-987 (Paris, 1889), p. 22, note. 



The Year 1000 439 

dom, summons them to a common expedition for the delivery of 
the holy places. This document, which exists in but a single manu- 
script, and that a transcript, though of the eleventh century, they 
deem a clumsy forgery, produced in the days of the First Crusade. 
As to its motive they are not at one. With it must pass from cre- 
dence the expedition said by it to be preparing by Venice and 
Genoa, — as there had already fallen the legend (based on more 
misunderstanding) of Pisan exploits of this period in the Levant. 

As the earliest summons to the Holy War against Islam, then, 
there remain the famous letters of Pope Gregory VII., in 1074. Of 
these (excepting that to the Countess Matilda) the genuineness is 
not questioned ; but later historians, following Von Sybel, see in 
them less than did the earlier. What they mainly urge is the rescue 
not of the Holy Land, but of Asia Minor ; their motive, politic 
not less than pious, is the salvation of the Greek church and the 
restoration of Armenian orthodoxy ; their means, not an armed 
pilgrimage of Latin Christendom, but an invading army. And 
such as it was, the enterprise was with Gregory but a passing im- 
pulse. 

For the conception, then, as well as for the initiation, of the 
Crusades proper we are brought to their very eve. To discuss the 
sources and the legends of the First Crusade is the task of another. 
Yet from this hasty survey of the havoc wrought by modern criti- 
cism among their antecedents, it must not be gathered that to pres- 
ent-day scholars the Crusades had no remoter causes. They are 
to be sought still in the ascetic spirit and the theocratic ideals of 
the age, in the love of travel and of venture, begotten in it by pil- 
grimage, in the over-population of the West, in the rise of chivalry 
and in the intolerable havoc wrought by its private wars, in the 
Church's assumption by the Truce of God to check and even to 
direct its energies, above all in those brilliant enterprises of the 
eleventh century, suggested or sanctioned by the Church, which 
appealed alike to the piety, the valor, and the ambition of every 
knightly soul — the deeds of the Normans in England, in Italy, in the 
Greek Empire, the beating back of the Moors in Spain, the African 
raids of the Italian sea-powers. Let, then, the century's last word 
on the deeper causes of the Crusades be that of Bishop Stubbs : 
"They were the first great effort of medieval life to go beyond the 
pursuit of selfish and isolated ambitions ; they were the trial-feat of 
the young world, essaying to use, to the glory of God and the 
benefit of man, the arms of its new knighthood." 

George Lincoln Burr.